Thursday, November 29, 2012

Assumptions and Presuppositions

There's a small point I'd like to make about presuppositionalism, in between work chaos explosions. That point is about assumptions and presuppositions.

Apologists are correct in one thing - as atheists, we do tend to make some assumptions, such as that we aren't just brains in a vat. That's true. I have to presuppose that solipsism isn't true in order to make arguments and assessments about the world around me.

"Ah hah!", an apologist squeals from behind a nearby curtain, "So you admit that! So why can't I just assume or presuppose that God is the basis for logic and reason?"

Apologists seem to have an obsession about absolute certainty - one I don't share. It's good enough that we can be reasonably certain about something, with a small enough margin of error. When it comes to assumptions or presuppositions, the goal should be to minimize them.

It's something we can never get 100%, but the point is to try - just like the point is to try to get a gasoline engine that's as efficient as possible, even if we'd never get to 100%.

Don't you think, though, that the fact we can't get to 100% isn't an excuse to be satisfied with 1%? One wouldn't say, for example, "Well, Mr. Smarty Pants, I see you can't get your car engine to 100% efficiency. Hah! Then I'm going to go ahead and assert that my 0.5% fuel-efficient car is equivalent to your 86% fuel-efficient car!"

That'd be silly, right? That's what presuppositionalists are doing.

They're asserting that because you are forced to make a couple concessions of assumptions out of pure necessity, that they are therefore justified in making up their own presuppositions as they please - such as that logic comes from God and Christianity is the only rational world view.

Here's the difference - assuming where logic comes from is not necessary.

I may need to assume that my car will have gasoline in order to run, when I'm designing it, but that doesn't mean I also have to assume that I know where the fuel comes from. I don't have to assume that my gasoline comes from some guy in Napal in order to design how my engine is going to use the fuel.

The fact is, logic exists, and so does gasoline. Similarly, we don't need to know where each comes from in order to use them.

It's an interesting question why logic exists, and one that we ought to look into, but that can be a question for another day, and we can wait until we can properly investigate the question, which is an entirely rational position to take.

In short, God is not a necessary assumption for logic. I may have to make an assumption that solipsism isn't true, but not really, because clearly my mind has consistent rules, which I can investigate. I'm just in error about which "reality" I'm observing, potentially.

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